The Supreme Court has accepted the plea of a Muslim couple (the woman, who was a Hindu, had converted to Islam) that they had married under their personal law and did not need to register the marriage again under Special Marriage Act (SMA).
The couple had challenged an Allahabad High Court direction asking them to register their marriage under the SMA.
A bench of Justices Mohan M Shantanagoudar and Sanjiv Khanna modified the High Court order after senior advocate Arundhati Katju, appearing for the couple, told the bench the “the petitioners do not want to get their marriage registered under the Special Marriage Act” and that “if it is so, the court cannot force them to get the marriage registered”.
In an order on August 8, the SC bench said: “Recording the said submission made on behalf of the petitioners, the impugned order stands modified to the said extent.”
The petitioners married on September 6, 2016, and already had their nikahnama issued after which they approached the High Court for protection as they feared trouble from their families.
What Special Marriage Act says
The Special Marriage Act, 1954, was intended for those who, for some reason, could not or did not want to solemnise their marriage under the personal laws. The law extends to all Indians, including those living abroad. Any couple of legally marriageable age, sound mind, and who are not in a prohibited relationship, can marry under the Act after giving notice of the same. This applies to all inter-caste and inter-faith marriages
Allowing their plea, the High Court in its November 23, 2017, order cited a 2006 judgement of the apex court which said “this is a free and democratic country, and once a person becomes a major he or she can marry whosoever he/she likes. If the parents of the boy or girl do not approve of such inter-caste or inter-religious marriage the maximum they can do is that they can cut off social relations with the son or the daughter, but they cannot give threats or commit or instigate acts of violence and cannot harass the person who undergoes such inter-caste or inter-religious marriage”.
Advocate Abdul Azeem Kalebudde, who filed the appeal against the HC order, said a Muslim marriage is conclusive when a nikahnama is issued and there was no need to register it separately under the Special Marriage Act.